I just finished reading Murray while on the treadmill. As I stepped off — with urgent, tight focus on what I know I have to do (type up my SOL in less than 10, again.) — I came to a conclusion that my husband absolutely hates me saying every once in awhile: I don’t know what I’m doing.
Sometimes it’s not true in some contexts, sometimes in true in others. but it’s a saying I want to wear on my sleeve, but my husband has taught me to wear pinned to my chest — because of possible consequences. How credible would it be for a teacher to be saying this all the time?
I don’t know what I”m doing.
“That’s okay, I can show you.”
“Wow.. what you accomplished was absolutely incredible!!”
BUT I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M DOING!!
..seriously, it’s my secret mantra.
And Don Murray, Godfather of the Writing Process in the Classroom says that’s okay:
“The knowing that we call craft — how to find the right word, how to rub two words together in a phrase that gives off more meaning than either word alone, the skill of allowing a sentence to find its own flowing course, the placing of emphasis within the paragraph, all the techniques I practice, all my knowing, allows me to come face to fact with not knowing. I am released by the knowing of craft into the unknowing that allows me to write what I do not — and my reader does not — expect. Together we are allowed to connect, to explore, to astonish, to discover what we didn’t know we knew.
This stimulaxxting ignorance expands the longer I extend my apprenticeship. It is my comfort and my delight. Completing my sixth decade of making meaning with words, I look forward to years of increased not knowing. I will write what I do not yet know in ways I have not yet written.”
Tonight, I eseentially realized 3 things about myself:
- I teach like a writer.
- I am thereby a writer through and through., and have been for years, even though I have no published work to show for it, because this is exactly how I think.
- I ain’t half bad, I just gotta keep truckin’.
The 4th think I learned is that this would make a really good essay. Time to pick up a manual on revision (one of the several I have on my shelf), and flesh this out with anecdotes and whatnot.
Time to think about what else I don’t know.